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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

STAR FRUIT - THE NUTRITION VALUE

STAR FRUIT or CARAMBOLA (Avverhoa carambola) are popular fruit grown in Malaysia. Department of Agriculture reported in 2015 total area planted with star fruit estimated 1,500 hectare located mostly in Selangor, Perak and Johore. Malaysia are the largest fresh star fruit to Europe region since few decade ago. The most popular variety of star fruits in Malaysia are B10 and B2 and B17. B17 are elongated shape star fuuit with very sweet and mostly for domestic market. The B2 variety is for domestic and export quality.  Star fruit has a star shaped tropical fruit with sweet and sour flavor. Carambola is native to Malayan Peninsula and cultivated in many parts of Southeast Asia, Pacific islands and China for its fruits. Although abundant and plentiful, carambola is yet to gain popularity, especially in the western world.  The genus averrhoa includes two well-known sorrel (Oxalidaceae) families of fruiting trees, carambola and bilimbi (tree cucumber). The fruit is recognized as belimbing manis in many South East Asian regions.
 


Star fruit is a small and bushy evergreen tree that grows very well under hot, humid, tropical conditions. The plant bears small lilac colour, bell-shaped flowers in clusters, which subsequently develop into oblong shaped fruits with characteristic five angled edges (sides or ribs) that appear like a starfish in cross sections (See writer under the carambola tree). Both sweet and sour varieties begin to yield under cultivable orchards, and ready for harvesting when the plants reach about 3-4 years old. Carambola fruit features light-green to yellow with attractive smooth waxy surface and weighs about 70-130g. Inside, its crispy, juicy pulp can either be mildly sweet or extremely sour depending upon the cultivar type and amount of oxalic acid concentration. In some seed types, 2-5 tiny edible seeds found at the center of each angled cavitiy.
 

Health benefits of star fruit according to the scientific reports are amazing.
Star fruit is one of the very low calorie exotic fruits. 100 g fruit just provides 31 calories, which is much lower than for any other popular tropical fruits. Nonetheless, it has an impressive list of essential nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins required for well-being. The fruit along with its waxy peel provides a good amount of dietary fiber. Fiber helps prevent absorption of dietary LDL cholesterol in the gut. The dietary fibers also help protect the mucous membrane of the colon from exposure to toxic substances by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. Star fruit contains good quantities of vitamin-C. Vitamin C is a powerful natural antioxidant. 100 g of fresh fruit provides 34.7 mg or 57% of daily-required levels of vitamin C. In general, consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.



Star fruit is rich in antioxidant phyto-nutrients polyphenolic flavonoids. Some of the important flavonoids are quercetin, epicatechin, and gallic acid. Total polyphenol contents (Folin assay) in this fruit are143 mg/100 g. These compounds help protect from deleterious effects of oxygen derived free radicals by warding them off the body. In addition, the fruit is a good source of B-complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6). Together, these vitamins help as co-factors for enzymes in metabolism as well as in various synthetic functions inside the body. It also contains small amount of minerals and electrolytes like potassium, phosphorus, and zinc and iron. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure; thus, counters bad influences of sodium. Medicinal uses of star fruit and its juice is often recommended in many folk medicine in Brazil as a diuretic (to increase urine output), expectorant, and to suppress cough. Try to buy fresh star fruit and eat as fresh cut fruit or as juice extract. Thanks.

By
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Precint 11, Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
(23 Rejab 1436H)

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